Section champion Latrobe volleyball ready for playoffs

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Sunday, May 12, 2019 | 7:44 PM


Latrobe’s boys volleyball team emerged from a competitive field to capture a section championship.

The Wildcats hope the Section 3-AAA title isn’t the only one they collect.

With a senior-laden roster, Latrobe looks to play well into the postseason as the WPIAL tournament opens this week.

“We have pretty high expectations for the playoffs,” Latrobe senior outside hitter Alex Ryan said. “We’re quite excited to get going. We think we have a good shot of going deep into the WPIAL playoffs and even the state playoffs this year.”

A run through the WPIAL tournament may not be easy, though, with teams like North Allegheny (the defending WPIAL and PIAA champ), Bethel Park and Shaler ahead of Latrobe in the coaches’ association rankings.

“The top teams in the WPIAL are absolutely some of the top teams in the state. I think pretty much any of the top six teams could win the WPIAL. There will be lots of competition and lots great teams, which should make for an interesting year,” Ryan said. “We are absolutely thrilled with how our season has been going so far. We expected to be one of the better teams this year. We pulled out some wins this season we didn’t think would happen in the fashion that they did.”

The Wildcats captured their first section title since 2008 with an 11-1 record. Their lone setback came against rival Hempfield.

“Our section is the most competitive section there is in boys volleyball. So, to win, it’s an accomplishment of attrition. We have five teams in the section that could beat the snot out of you any night. To finish on top is one major accomplishment,” Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski said. “We had a tough match against Hempfield, but it only tempers our mettle. The better teams you play, the better you play under pressure. Our guys have proven that in section play.”

Latrobe showed it can stack up with the state’s best, too. The team finished second at the State College tournament at the end of April. The Wildcats beat Central York, the state’s top-ranked team, in the semifinals, but lost to Class AA powerhouse Northeastern in the finals in two close sets.

“That was a pretty great experience. We went into the day just trying to get to the semifinals,” Ryan said. “When we got to the quarterfinals, we were completely out of energy. We played Hempfield, though, and that gave us the energy to get us through. Going up against Central York, we wanted to have fun. We didn’t expect to beat them. We somehow managed to pull through and beat them. It was a great day, and it boosted our morale.”

The performance elevated the team’s goals.

“When you play the best in the state and you come out near the top, you know you have a shot of doing some great things,” Vosefski said. “The guys are focused on their goal. As a coach, at this point, all I have to do is keep them motivated and focused on the goal. They just have to do what they do best, and that’s play volleyball.”

The Wildcats are hoping for a strong postseason run for their seniors.

“We have a lot of leadership on the team. We have lots of chemistry throughout the team, too,” Ryan said. “We’ve all put in so many years of work to get where we are. We work well together. We know the stakes. We’re all playing for each other.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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